The Association of Booksellers for Children has announced that Alison Morris, children's book buyer and manager at Wellesley Booksmith in Wellesley, Mass., has won an essay contest sponsored by the Bologna Children's Book Fair. As winner, Morris will attend the fair in early April as a guest of its organizers.
The judges for the contest—the first of its kind—were Michael Eisenberg, Farrar, Straus & Giroux; K.T. Horning, Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin; and Arthur Levine, Arthur Levine Books, Scholastic. Receiving honorable mention for their entries were Rene Kirkpatrick of All for Kids in Seattle and Tina Moore of the Blue Marble in Fort Thomas, Ky.
The question that contestants were asked to answer ("Why is it important for American children to be exposed to literature from other countries?") caught Morris's attention immediately. "This is a topic that I feel quite strongly about," she said. "Exposure to the literature of other countries not only gives children a better understanding of people in other parts of the world, but also a better understanding of themselves." In her winning entry, the bookseller discussed how as a child she was deeply affected by such works of literature as The Arabian Knights, The Jungle Book and Madeline, which transported her to various corners of the globe. "By exposing American children to the literature of other countries," she said, "we are introducing them to some of the vast differences that exist in the world, while simultaneously teaching that basic human emotions and experiences are universal."
Anne Irish, ABC's executive director, said that she was thrilled when David Biltchik of the Bologna Children's Book Fair proposed the idea of the contest to her. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for a bookseller and I certainly hope this is an ongoing event," she stated.
Morris, who has traveled in Italy but has never visited Bologna, is eagerly looking forward to her trip. "I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this book fair and I'm thrilled to have the chance to be there. I am especially interested in seeing all the children's books from different countries that we don't have a chance to see in this country." Upon her return, Morris will write an article about her experiences that will appear in the ABC newsletter and on the Bologna Children's Book Fair Web site.